Prevent is part of the UK’s Counter Terrorism Strategy known as CONTEST. Prevent works to stop individuals from getting involved or supporting terrorism or extremist activity. Radicalisation is a psychological process where vulnerable and/or susceptible individuals are groomed to engage into criminal, terrorist activity.

The Prevent Programme is designed to safeguard people in a similar way to safeguarding processes to protect people from gang activity, drug abuse, and physical and sexual abuse.

With a staff population for 1.3million, the NHS is a value based organisation which aims to empower staff to understand and recognise all forms of harm and abuse, this includes radicalisation.

Tailored support for any individual identified as being vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism is offered through the voluntary Channel programme. This is a Local Authority led multi-agency panel, which decides on what the most appropriate support package for that person will be. On this panel, like many others, the health sector plays a pivotal role in providing appropriate health services for an individuals needs, whether that be through Primary Care, Mental Health services or wider support services.

Accountability and legislation

In April 2015, the Prevent Statutory Duty under Section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 was made a statutory responsibility for the health sector. The Duty stated that the health sector needed to demonstrate “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.

Within health, NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts are specifically mentioned in the Duty. However, Prevent is part of mainstream safeguarding and therefore all health staff must ensure vulnerable people are safeguarded.

The NHS Standards Contract requires all NHS funded providers to demonstrate they comply with the requirements of the Prevent Duty. This includes ensuring that there is a named Prevent Lead and that there is access to quality training for staff in their organisation.

As a statutory partner, the NHS is in a position to help identify and support any vulnerable individuals who may be being or at risk of being radicalised.

The National Safeguarding Steering Group has oversight of Prevent delivery across England via its safeguarding assurance processes.

Work priorities and achievements

Work priorities are agreed by NHS England, Department of Health and the Home Office. These priorities change every year to reflect any emerging issues which may need attention. If you would like to know more about the current work that is ongoing across the health sector in England please contact your Regional Prevent Coordinator.

Since implementation of the Prevent Duty in 2015 the health sector has come together to:

  • Form a network of Prevent Leads in all NHS commissioning and provider organisations across England;
  • Work with colleagues across England to ensure that awareness is raised about radicalisation and Prevent;
  • Contribute to the development of the Channel panels with appropriate health representation;
  • Disseminate communications that allow health staff to understand Prevent and its importance as part of safeguarding;
  • Work alongside Health Education England to produce E-Learning packages;
  • Commission research to increase our understanding of how to embed Prevent in the health sector;
  • Forge strong links with other statutory partners and voluntary sector organisations;
  • Contribute to the European Union Radicalisation Awareness Network.

Important documents/websites

Free training resources

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